An Iowa court has ordered Vision Improvement Technologies, Inc., to immediately stop selling its so-called natural vision improvement kit called the "See Clearly Method." The court also ordered the company to pay $200,000 for consumer restitution.
The court order resolves a consumer fraud lawsuit filed last year by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, which alleged that the company could not substantiate claims that the "See Clearly Method" improved people's vision so much that they would no longer need glasses or contact lenses.
The "See Clearly Method" was a kit of manuals, charts, videos and audio-tapes demonstrating eye exercises and other techniques, such as focusing eyes using special charts or props, facing a bright light with eyes closed at a distance of a few inches, covering eyes with hands for sustained periods, and applying hot and cold wash cloths over closed eyes.
The company sold tens of thousands of the kits for about $350 apiece.
"The company made dramatic claims for its product that it could not substantiate," Miller said.
"They represented that consumers who used the method could quickly and easily free themselves of having to wear glasses or contact lenses. They used illegal tactics including exaggerated claims of effectiveness, false implications of scientific validity, and misleading consumer testimonials in advertising," he said.
"We also alleged that a so-called 'risk-free' 30-day trial period was deceptively presented and ended up forcing many consumers to pay hundreds of dollars apiece for a product that they wanted to return because it did not help them," Miller said.
Polk County District Court Judge Don C. Nickerson entered a consent judgment resolving the Attorney General's lawsuit. The order was agreed to by Vision Improvement Technologies, Inc. (VIT) and the individual defendants: Cliff Rose, David E. Sykes, David W. Muris, and Gary Korf. The defendants denied violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
VIT and all defendants must comply with numerous orders under the Consent Judgment:
• VIT must stop all sales of the "See Clearly Method" as of Nov.1, and cease business altogether by December 22, 2006, or as soon thereafter as possible.
• VIT paid $200,000 yesterday into a fund the Attorney General can use for restitution to consumers, and paid $20,000 to Iowa's Consumer Fraud Elderly Victim Fund.
• VIT must remove all negative credit reports lodged against consumers since the marketing of the "See Clearly Method" began about six years ago.
• VIT and all defendants are prohibited from numerous deceptive practices alleged by the Attorney General, including failing to substantiate claims, abusing testimonials in advertising, and making misleading claims.
"It is particularly important that a company be able to substantiate that its product works when there are so many challenges to the principles and techniques supposedly under girding the claims," Miller said. "Iowa law requires a seller to be able to substantiate such ambitious claims, but this company could not do so."